5 Reasons Why Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett Is The Perfect YA Contemporary Book

5 Reasons Why Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett Is The Perfect YA Contemporary BookAlex, Approximately
by Jenn Bennett
Release Date: April 4th 2017
Published by Simon Teen
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, YA
Format: ARC
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four-half-stars
Source: ARC received for review purposes

In this delightfully charming teen spin on You’ve Got Mail, the one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.

Classic movie buff Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online by “Alex.” Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new arch-nemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever-it-is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.

ARC received for review purposes in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


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There are just certain YA books that absolutely blow me away with how readable they are. Jenn Bennett’s The Anatomical Shape of a Heart was one of those books for me. I didn’t think it was possible for the author to write another book even better than that one, but Jenn Bennett completely wowed me with Alex, Approximately. It’s the sort of book that is so hard to put down that you decide to forego all your chores, and in the end, you don’t even care, because reading the book was an indescribable experience. I have lots to say about Alex, Approximately, but I’m not going to reveal everything, because there elements of the book you have to experience all on your own. So here are 5 reasons why this book worked for me.

Bailey’s realness

It’s not often that I discover a heroine is very much like me, but I was glad to see lots of my teenage self in Bailey. Now, I’m not a film-buff like Bailey was, but there were aspects of her characterization that I think a lot of teen girls will recognize. She’s a breath of fresh air with how perfectly flawed she was. She makes mistakes, she learns from her mistakes and she apologizes for her mistakes. Bailey was also quite an emotional girl, which I 100% related to. She has a lot going on with her family, but despite it all, she was a strong girl who stayed true to herself throughout Alex, Approximately. If you enjoy books with strong character development and growth, you will very likely connect on a deep level to Bailey and her story.

Porter’s swooniness (I know not a real word)

Good gosh does Jenn Bennett know how to write YA boys who are delectable! I was expecting Porter to be a great guy, but I was still surprised by how much I wound up loving him. He was charming, flirty and genuine in his kindness. The way he pursues Bailey totally had my heart fluttering all over the place. His devotion to his family, his cocky attitude and his love for surfing made him all the more attractive to me. Porter was so much more than just a surfer and I loved that he possessed so much depth. You’ll be left wondering where on earth you can find a boy as swoony as Porter once you’re done reading the book!

The vibrant beach setting & the museum that comes to life

I love anything that has a coastal beach setting because it reminds me home. Bailey has just moved in to her dad’s place in California, and a lot of her growth is focused around this setting. I loved the descriptions of the locales, locals, food, and the activities that she pursued while she was there. The museum that she finds work in was also beautifully written. It was quirky, charming, and had a very entertaining staff that had me smiling and laughing. I wish that I had somewhere as cool as The Cavern Palace to work at as a teen.

Relationships that are flawed, messy and meaningful

As with the characters and the setting, the relationships in Alex, Approximately were also a highlight for me. I particularly loved Bailey’s bond with her father. It’s a little complicated, but also full of love and respect for each other. There were so many great scenes of the two of them talking and expressing their feelings to each other. I loved that they were respectful even when they might not have agreed with each other. Bailey also meets an awesome friend in Grace. I really loved Grace, and I thought she made for an awesome side-kick, who was a rock for Bailey a lot of times. More awesome girl friendships, please!

A romance that is deliciously romantic & sex positive

To say that I loved the development of the romance between Bailey & Porter would be a severe understatement. I thought it was absolutely perfect, and I loved how it had a bit of a hate-to-love feel to it in the beginning. Bailey and Porter didn’t see eye to eye at first, but he slowly broke down her defenses and soon enough, even she couldn’t resist his charms. There were some seriously swoony moments in the book, but the scenes I loved the best were the ones of the two of them talking and emotionally connecting with each other. The chemistry felt real and tangible, and it was just the sort of romance that left me with a sappy grin on my face. Part of the romance also developed through emails and texts (which I LOVED), and made it extra special. As with The Anatomical Shape of a Heart, Alex, Approximately was also sex-positive. There aren’t explicit sex scenes or anything, but there are discussions of sex between the two protagonists before they jump into bed together. I was also ridiculously pleased at the mention of Bailey masturbating. I think there’s notion that bringing yourself to pleasure is sinful, especially for young women, so it was refreshing to have a YA book show it positively.

As you can probably tell from all my praise, I’m wildly obsessed with this book and I can’t wait for the rest of the world to pick Alex, Approximately up and find a story that’s full of heart, swoons and smiles.  I’m ready for Jenn Bennett’s next!

What are some of your favorite sex-positive YA books?
Let me know in the comments below!

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Nick
  • Angel @Angel Reads

    YES YES YES. I just finished this one and I have so much love for it. It was just too good. I cannot wait to write my review. Thanks for yours.

  • I love how Jenn always has something sex-positive in her books. It should be done more often in YA books!! OMG I can’t wait to meet Porter 😍 what is it with Jenn writing swoony male characters? I hope she keeps including them in her novels because I love!!! Bailey sounds like a fantastic character! Plus, father-daughter relationship? Yes, please!! Gah, I need to buy this book as soon as it comes out (and I’m not broke LOL). Amazing review, Nick!
    Genesis @ Latte Nights Reviews

  • I am so excited to read this! I didn’t know much about it until last week and I still don’t know a whole lot but it seems like something I’d enjoy and there have been a lot of positive buzz about this book in the community so I’m pretty excited for this! Thanks for sharing Nick!

    xx Anisha @ Sprinkled Pages

  • YES!! So excited for this one. I loved her last YA and this one seems like it will be a winner for me too. And I think Swooniness is so a word 🙂 Great review!

  • Ughhhhhh. I can’t wait to read this book. I was just trolling my bookstore and I saw that they already have copies in stock, and I’m like, what?! I need to go there right away. I know authors hate that but my need for this book is real, yo.

  • That is awesome that this worked for you so much, Nick!

  • I really loved this one too! And for all the reasons you mentioned! Porter is like the ultimate book bf and I’m so happy I still have The Anatomical Shape of a Heart to look forward to reading. I really loved Bailey as a main character from her demeanor to her old Hollywood glam fashion sense. And I also loved Bailey’s Dad and that he’s just as addicted to Settlers of Catan as I am!

  • SWOONINESS should totally be a word! I love that you connected with Bailey. This sounds delightful and I love the settings. Wonderful review Nick!

  • YES TO ALL THIS. this book was unreal. So good. I would kill to visit that museum and the whole rest of the town!

  • Bennett has got to be my go-to author for all sex-positive YA books. I need this book in my life. This has everything I could possibly want in a book. Strong character growth, swoony guys, complex family dynamics and a stunning romance. On top of that the beach/museum setting is perfect for me.

  • I so need to read more of this author. I’ve seen a handful of great reviews for this book so it’s going on my list of books to buy. Thanks for the review, Nick!

  • I can’t wait to get my hands on this one when it comes out, I love the sound of it and I heard it’s a bit different. Plus I am curious about the father daughter relationship and the complexity of it.

  • I am ridiculously excited for this one – even more so after reading your review, Nick. I seriously love YA contemporary and the synopsis of this one grabbed me the first time I saw it. But the portrayal of Bailey, the swooniness of Potter (that’s totally a word, I’m sure) and the realistic relationships… I am so on board for it all! Can’t wait for release day next week!

    Tanya @ Girl Plus Books

  • Rummanah Aasi

    So excited to read this one! Sounds like perfect romance/summer read!

  • This will sound weird but it totally makes me happy that this book is sex positive and mention of masturbation! I mean, that is basically unheard of YA. I knew I wanted to read this book anyway because Jenn Bennett’s last book was amazing but if I didn’t you did a pretty good job of convincing me. I’m thinking I may have to get around to pre ordering it though, to make sure I remember to read.

  • The more I hear about this book the more I want to read it, which is saying a lot because YA contemporary and I don’t typically get along! I’ve already heard that Porter is Swoon worthy and that Bailey is relatable, but it’s awesome to hear that this is sex positive too! And makes mention of ladies masturbating. Because really…it’s 2017 people! Ain’t nothing wrong with it. Nick and Jenn Bennett, you’ve sucked me back into YA contemps!

  • I’m looking forward to read this
    book, Nick. I have a feeling I will love it too. Bailey sounds like an amazing
    protagonist, and I’m all for strong character development and growth. Porter
    sounds absolutely swoon-worthy. I enjoy coastal beach setting, though for
    different reasons. I never lived near sea so it’s unusual concept for me. I
    agree that there in not a lot of sex positive YA contemporaries. One book that
    comes to mind is My Life Next Door; there was scene where the couple discussed sex
    and their experiences. Amazing review, Nick!